From Mechanic To Doctor: Cleveland Man Turns His Dream Into Reality At 51.

Carl sitting in hospital room on a bed and smiling.

It’s never too late to achieve your dreams – the key is to never forget them. 


For Clevelander Carl Allamby, the journey to his dream of becoming a doctor took many turns. Still, he was determined to make it a reality. The path to the medical field is different for everyone but, for Allamby, it was especially non-traditional.

“I remember having a desire at a young age to become a doctor,” Carl Allamby said. “But my life circumstances led me to a much different place.”

Growing up in East Cleveland, he admits that life was hard, and his family often struggled to meet basic needs. He even admits that without government assistance, there were many times that his family would have gone without food. 

But Carl’s humble beginnings did not set the tone for his future. While he endured economic hardships, he says his saving grace was always his family. His parents instilled a strong work ethic and always encouraged their children to pursue their dreams.

“(My parents) always taught us the value of working hard for what we wanted and never giving up on your dreams, no matter how improbable,” Carl said. “Most importantly, they taught us to treat people fairly, with dignity and respect.”

While Carl’s journey to medicine wasn’t direct, he heeded his parents’ words and never lost sight of his dream. Instead, he simply put it on hold.

In high school, Carl got a job at a local car parts store. He also started doing repairs on the side, but it just wasn’t serving his passion of business ownership. So, he opened his own Auto Repair shop, Allamby’s Auto Service at age 19.

It’s ambitious to open a business at such a young age. He quickly learned just how fast a business can grow and the challenges that can come with that. After some time, he decided to take night classes while keeping his day job to change up his routine. 

In 2006, Carl enrolled in college at age 34 at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio. Originally his plan was to pursue a business degree. However, a biology course requirement turned out to be much more than a class – it was a nudge toward his childhood dream.

“I figured, what do I need biology [class] for?” he thought. “I’m a business major.”

Once he got into the class, however, that mindset changed.

“It was just magnetic,” Carl said. “I think it was within the first hour of class that I said to myself, ‘Wow, this is it. I need to go into medicine.'”

In 2010, Carl started to take pre-med classes at Cuyahoga Community College, in Cleveland, Ohio. From here, he became an active volunteer at local hospitals and completed hours of shadowing the medical environment before enrolling in medical school at Northeast Ohio Medical University in 2015.

“Over the course of five years or better, I attended weekend, evening, or early morning classes in pre-medicine and other college studies while managing my business, lifestyle and household in order to transition my career,” he said.

Carl graduated from medical school at age 47 – and started his emergency medicine residency in 2019 at The Cleveland Clinic in Akron. He never let his age cloud his vision. As a husband, father of four, and business owner, he said he was laser-focused as a medical student. 

And this year his dream finally came true. He recently started his first job as an attending physician – the term to describe doctors after they complete all their training – at Cleveland Clinic’s Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.

The journey from longtime mechanic to doctor wasn’t an easy one, but he finds that there are parallels between the two career paths. He often draws from his experiences as a business owner realizing that “providing empathy, compassion and reassurance is often as important as providing appropriate medical care.”

Share Carl’s story with friends to remind them it’s never too late to achieve your dreams.

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